Three- to Four-Year-Old Children Rapidly Adapt Their Predictions and Use Them to Learn Novel Word Meanings

Naomi Havron, Alex de Carvalho, Anne Caroline Fiévet, Anne Christophe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Adults create and update predictions about what speakers will say next. This study asks whether prediction can drive language acquisition, by testing whether 3- to 4-year-old children (n = 45) adapt to recent information when learning novel words. The study used a syntactic context which can precede both nouns and verbs to manipulate children's predictions about what syntactic category will follow. Children for whom the syntactic context predicted verbs were more likely to infer that a novel word appearing in this context referred to an action, than children for whom it predicted nouns. This suggests that children make rapid changes to their predictions, and use this information to learn novel information, supporting the role of prediction in language acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-90
Number of pages9
JournalChild Development
Volume90
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Society for Research in Child Development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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